Here’s a Café OTO feature on our People Like Us : Three Day Residency at Cafe OTO. Get advance tickets here: https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/…/people-like-us-three-day…/
People Like Us – The Library of Babel (2023)
First there is experience.
Then we attach a story to it.
The Library of Babel is a vast library of words. Some combine to make stories of consequence, others are nonsensical.
The library is complete.
Yet searching it is futile.
Using dense collage and splintered narrative, “The Library of Babel” is a new audio-visual performance by People Like Us, a journey through cinema and sound where the actors are set adrift from their story, left with pure experience.
The title is inspired by a 1941 Jorge Luis Borges short story, exploring themes related to the complex interplay of infinity, knowledge, and the cosmic fabric, presented through the metaphor of a vast, seemingly infinite library. In the story, the librarians are isolated, focussed on an almost religious or existential quest, struggling to find meaningful texts amidst an overwhelming number of nonsensical or irrelevant books. The library itself has no goals or intentions; a canvas onto which searchers project their quests for meaning. The narrative delves into the angst and crises of those that explore its depths, raising questions about our ability to manage, navigate, and find meaning from vast amounts of information.
In this new work by People Like Us, traditional storytelling gets a modern twist through the amalgamation of audio-visual collage and intricate editing techniques. The digital narrative reconfigures, decomposes, redirects, and recombines images with sounds that are often already ingrained in audience’s collective consciousness due to their prior associations within the selected materials. Initially, they sail on a journey of previous associations and memories. However, the extensive fusion of source materials evolve them into a unified whole, severing past affiliations and pioneering uncharted territory that transcends memory to become a singular, immersive experience. Rather than adhering to a linear progression of events, the thematic narrative unfolds in layered complexities, offering a fragmented but coherent tale achieved through a blend of various sources and an ‘exquisite corpse’ approach.
Using collage as a medium democratises the content, making it resonant not just for aficionados of art, film, or music, but for a broad cross-section of the community. The technique is a universal entry point that appeals to both young and old, presenting elements that can communicate varied messages about film, music, culture, or society. Alternatively, the collage can stand alone as an extraordinary experience devoid of an overt narrative. Indeed, the aim is to use storytelling as a tool to transcend the preconceived notions and internal stories that audiences may bring with them.
Vicki Bennett (artist name People Like Us)
w. peoplelikeus.org | w. ubu.com/sound/plu.html | w. wfmu.org/peoplelikeus
Under the name “People Like Us,” artist Vicki Bennett has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, concert appearances, gallery exhibits, 360 immersive installations and online streaming and distribution since 1992. Using collage as a compositional tool, Vicki Bennett opens up endless opportunities to experience results that are more than the sum of the parts.
As a solo artist or collaborator Vicki has published more than 40 video projects and 50 audio recordings, with works released by labels including Illegal Art, Rough Trade, Soleilmoon Recordings, Discrepant, Sonic Arts Network and Touch. Vicki’s DO or DIY show on the fiercely independent New York City-market radio station WFMU has run since 2003. Her video work has been screened at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, BFI, Purcell Room, Barbican, ICA, V&A. Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Sonar (Barcelona), MAXXI/National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico City), among other institutions. Video works have been aired on Channel 4 and radio sessions created for John Peel and Mixing It.
People Like Us has been commissioned by Arts Council England, Barbican, Attenborough Centre (ACCA), The BBC, WDR, Deutschlandradio, PRSF, a-n, Great North Run, Sound and Music, Channel 4/Animate Projects, AV Festival, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Recombinant Media Labs (RML), Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes.
To date, Vicki has had 7 solo exhibitions and participated in at least 20 group shows at MAXXI (Rome), Venice Biennale, HMKV (Dortmund), Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico), Hatton Gallery (Newcastle), Vitrine (London), alt.gallery (Newcastle), Greene County Council for the Arts Gallery (NY), Peacock Visual Arts (Aberdeen), Pallant House (Chichester), Engramme (Quebec), La Scatola Gallery (London), Changing Room (Stirling), Franklin Street Works (Connecticut), Usurp Gallery (London), University of Greenwich Galleries, Matthew Gallery (Dundee), Edinburgh Printmakers, Millennium Gallery (Sheffield) Leeds College of Art, Sunbeam Studios (London) and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (NY).
The work of People Like Us has been featured in many publications, including Sounds Like Silence – 4’33’’ Silence Today (Spectre Books 2012), The Journal of Writing In Creative Practice (Vol 7 Issue 1 2015), The Fundamentals of Sonic Art and Design by Tony Gibbs (Ava Publishing 2007), Cutting Across Media by Kembrew McLeod (Duke University Press 2011), Here To Go – Art, Counter-Culture and the Esoteric (Forum Nidrosiae 2014), Incredible Machines by Danny Snelson (avant 2014), Sensations of History (University of Minnesota Press 2019) and she has written for The Wire’s Collateral Damage (February 2012) and Inner Sleeve (October 2024). Vicki has a whole chapter dedicated to her work in Duchamp Is My Lawyer The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb by Kenneth Goldsmith on Columbia University Press (2020) and a chapter in Different People – Conversations on Art, Life and the Creative Process by Carl Abrahamsson on Trapart (2021).
Audience quotes from Gone, Gone Beyond, a previous 360 surround work (2021):
“probably the most magnificent piece of cinema I’ve ever seen, I was knocked out by it, I’ll remember that vividly for the rest of my life, absolutely staggering” –– audience member, SPILL Festival, Ipswich UK
“We begin on the outside looking in, and then finish from the inside looking out. ‘Gone, Gone Beyond’ is an immersive cinematic experience, with so many layers and dimensions in sound, space and time, woven together beautifully.” – Andrea H — Grey Area, San Francisco
“Gone, Gone, Beyond went well beyond all my expectations. It was both delightful and challenging, a tour de force of images and sound, rising, falling, mixing, merging, and celebrating the beauty of resonance and discordance all at once. I could not stop smiling at its unrelenting waves of cleverness and boldness. Bravo! If only SFMOMA had such gumption.” – Ben D — Grey Area, San Francisco
“I cried twice. The sheer mad energy of it. Great work.” — John, SPILL Festival, Ipswich UK
“That was one of the best things that I’ve ever seen and heard. Amazing, and quite indescribable in words.” — Pete, Barbican, London
“It’s an enthralling and constantly fascinating audio/visual/spatial experience: at times frightening, funny, invigorating, lysergically beautiful or achingly sad. Lyrical fragments from familiar songs vibrate with haunting new resonances, snippets of classic movies infect one another with unexpected ironies, moments of meditative calm collide with the surreal excess of a deranged Hollywood, as everything constantly warps and weaves into strange new shapes”. — Stephen Thrower, Attenborough Centre, Brighton UK
“Absolutely brilliant work, and seeing it for the second time I felt like I was noticing so much I missed the first time round. Highly recommended, do go and see it.” — Akāshamitra, Barbican, London
“This is one of those all audience works and it would be at home in any city it came to” — Jon, Gray Area, San Francisco
“Massive show. Brilliant, surprising, humorous, full of questions and combinations. Excellent evening” — Simon Fisher Turner, Barbican, London
“It was an absolute pleasure and flat cinema will never feel the same again!” — Leanne, Barbican, London
We’ll be showing some People Like Us films at Craig Baldwin’s Other Cinema on 16 September 2023 at ATA on Valencia Street. Click on the link above for more info about Other Cinema. Please note, this is a screening, not a performance.
1st September 2023, BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction at 11pm UK
We were talking about our contribution to killing the music industry, in the first of a series of specials that commemorate 60 years of the cassette.
Program info and 30-day archive: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001pv3x
WEDNESDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2023 AT 18:30
We play a double bill at Paard in The Hague, Netherlands the week before the PLU residency at Cafe OTO, London, where Negativland will also appear.
Happy to announce that we will return to our weekly radio show DO or DIY with People Like Us on WFMU for the Summer Schedule 2023 :). Mark your calendar for weekly shows through the season starting Wednesday 7 June, 7-8pm NY Time (that’s midnight-1am Wednesday night in the UK). Shows are, and have been archived in perpetuity for over 20 years now, which is exactly how long DO or DIY has been on WFMU, and is returning to its original slot after Seven Second Delay.
Recently when compiling tracks for our retrospective double CD “Sharity!” we noticed what unique energy the Thermos Explorer (2000) period of People Like Us has. It represents to us the time when quite a lot of changes were happening, the dawn of fast internet and affordable computers, napster and email, and for People Like Us the same time marks personal changes – having been seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident and spending much of the time making this being pretty immobile (hence inner sleeve artwork, by Matt Wand!), and once out of hospital deciding to go to the US for the first time to visit various friends made as a result of all the networking that had suddenly become possible.
Also, that time brought an interesting transition for technology from analogue, early digital (MiniDisc) editing, having a wonderful Roland DJ70 sampling keyboard, yet not quite having a fast enough computer yet…
Thermos Explorer was originally released in 2000 on the wonderful Hot Air label, and that first edition went out of print maybe 15 years or so ago. So here we are bringing this special album back to life. People Like Us has changed quite a bit over the years, and this is a time capsule of a new century and lots of new opportunities, new collaborations, and new friends.
releases June 2, 2023
CARL STONE AT 70 – THREE-DAY RESIDENCY at CAFE OTO – 13 TO 15 JULY 2023
As part of this residency People Like Us will join Carl Stone (along with Scanner) for a panel and live performance.
After the fact: here’s a clip, courtesy of Robin Rimbaud:
Cafe OTO is delighted to host a very-special 70th birthday residency with pioneering composer, Carl Stone! Featuring avant-garde electronics, forensic sampling, and live computing unveiling a strange musical language, these will be his first London performances in five years.
Dubbed the King of Sampling by the Village Voice, and one of the pioneers of live computer music. Carl Stone started originally with tape recorders and turntables in 1972. In 1986 he adapted his performance to include live computing, which he continues to this day. In addition to solo performance, he often collaborates with other musicians in ensembles that merge and blend musical reality. Pitchfork called Stone’s music “like a dance party in a room made of funhouse mirrors” and the New York Times called it “a powerful stimulant with lingering euphoric effects”.
Now in his 70th year, Carl Stone’s plan for his Cafe OTO residency will feature his solo work, plus collaborators helping him explore acoustic resonance, media bombardment, Irony, elegance, economy and wit. Guests include Robin Rimbaud (Scanner), Vicki Bennett (People Like Us), Miki Yui (Realistic Monk), Kazuhisa Uchihashi and Silvia Kastel, plus panel discussions, interviews and DJ time!
A signed DOUBLE CD containing 1 hour 58 minutes of music we’ve selected through the years since we started releasing music. Contains remastered solo audio works from the past 30 years, and collaborations with our friends Ergo Phizmiz, Wobbly, Matmos, Mr Rotorvator and Gwilly Edmondez.
We’ve not released a retrospective since 2002 (Recyclopaedia Britannica), and we are aware that we will not be releasing the new album until early 2024 since we’ll not be working on that in full after we’ve made a new performance (in progress!). And we want to do something NOW! PLUS this will also help keep things ticking over for us later this year when the Indiegogo funds run out.
Please consider supporting our indiegogo here:
People Like Us | Ergo Phizmiz | Wobbly | Matmos | Gwilly Edmondez | Mr Rotorvator
Changing Your Mind is a new 50-minute crowd-sourced radio collage work by Vicki Bennett. It will be broadcast on Deutschlandfunk on 14 April 2023 at 0:05 (German time).
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind and has been practised for thousands of years. It encourages concentration, and clarity, and can have a transformative effect that can lead to a new understanding of life, and be used as a creative tool. This is a crowd-sourced audio collage by Vicki Bennett, where 48 participants respond to questions about the subject of meditation and consciousness and their experiences and relationship to this.
List of participants:
Abhayadevi, Akashamitra, Rahne Alexander, Tim Atkins, Vicki Bennett, Marcus Boon, William Boon, Liz Bot, Leanne Bryan, Falco Carey, Jeff Carey, Leon Clowes, Stephen Coates, Will Edmondes, Diane Farris, Jem Finer, Louise Gray, Maya Gürbüz, Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, Phil Hallett, Kevin Hamilton, Dan Hayhurst, Mark Heath, Pea Hicks, Seth Horvitz, Peter Jaeger, Felix Kubin, Henry Lowengard, Tim Maloney, Lasse Marhaug, David McConville, Alex McKechnie, Irene Moon, Karen Oates, Kira O’Reilly, Ratnadeva, Sanghasiha, Saraka, Vic Scarborough, Nikolas Schreck, Adrian Shephard, Vanessa Sinclair, Sue Slagle, Suddhaka, David Toop, Vidyadasi, Pete Wallace, Richard Whitelaw